Impermanence is Here to Stay

Sometimes I wake up and have no idea where I am. 

I search the room for clues, and think to myself this is how people struggling with Alzheimer’s must feel, as if searching for a misplaced shoe you lost a decade ago.

Where the hell is my ship, my views, my hospitable porter?

It’s disorienting to forget where you are in life, who’s currently part of your narrative, especially when bits and pieces of the storyline have vanished, as if an involuntary detachment to all things nonessential, this to me is how we die, or possibly the toll of ones death? Maybe we are not meant to fully understand, and life is more of a hands on experience, our only job is to choose how we will tackle it moment by moment? 

I love this quote by Wayne Muller, he says in that inevitable, human moment, we are offered a powerful choice. This choice is perhaps one of the most vitally important choices we will ever make, and it determines the course of our lives from that moment forward. The choice is this: Will we interpret loss as so unjust, unfair, and devastating that we feel punished, angry, forever and fatally wounded– or will we somehow feel this loss as an opportunity to become more tender, more open, more passionately alive, more grateful for what remains? I opt for the later.

On the other hand Philip Roth says nothing lasts, and yet nothing passes, either. And nothing passes just because nothing lasts. I’d like to pick his brain on that one, does he mean this is all an illusion, because we never existed, or are we like critical yeast, invisible, merely folded back into the dough, baked, sliced, and repurposed? 

Whereas Stephen Batchelor says each time something contingent and impermanent is raised to the status of something necessary and permanent, a devil is created. I had to read that twice before I realized I do this on a regular basis: the over/under toilet paper holder controversy, mandating outdated lake house rules, or holding one hostage at Sunday dinner, but fear not, “when this world has passed away, God will remain, but Satan will be permanently expelled, thrown in a lake of fire, or some such tragedy (Revelation 20:10 adapted), and forevermore the word mother will no longer have specious connotations. Alleluia.

While you all are wrestling with the devil, let me confess, I have a hard time relinquishing control, I’m the captain who never turns off the seatbelt sign, and no one is ever free to roam about the cabin. I have always prayed, “for the love of God will everyone please stay put.” This includes, but not exclusive to parents, progeny, pets, and perennials. Eyelash extensions would also qualify. I lose a few every night, they migrate as if birds, I find them nesting in my ear.

Regardless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that absolutely nothing in my life has stayed put, except for Looney, but he’s under contract, and according to Jesus that ends at death (Dude ~ I can totally hear what you’re thinking).

I’m just returning from an extended vacation, more like two vacations stacked on top of each other, as if pancakes doused in syrup, but the fork ended up under the table. I keep staring at the piles of luggage expecting them to put themselves away, but they are totally disobedient as one would expect, and they sit there with their sad little zipper frowns, begging to be emptied. Maybe after one more cup of coffee my porter will return? 

Coming home is a good thing. I miss the familiar, but then of course I miss the leisure of unmitigated time, my type A guy occasionally down shifting to type B, and most definitely room service. Larry says he does everything a porter does and more? I’m going to play nice and just say unequivocally that would be a hard no. 

So while I sit here working on my psychokinesis skills, which requires deep relaxation, focus, and practice I can’t possibly tackle the laundry, that would be multitasking, and this is extremely risky at my age. I was firmly instructed by my insurance agent that my policy would be unequivocally invalid if I did so much as file my nails while sipping coffee. I’m all about rules. #AgingGracefully

Life is funny, here I am, post cruise, relegating from my bed, “Looney (Larry’s new pet name) are you sure there’s no berries and gelato in the frig? 

Looney, “no princess, can I bring you more coffee?” 

Me, “is the “princess” really necessary?” 

I begrudgingly emerge from my throne to personally ransack the refrigerator, I bemoan, “if you want a job done right, do it yourself.” 

Looney, “you be you.”

Reality sucks, the frig is officially empty, except for some wilted produce, eggs, and sour milk, but then something extraordinary catches my eye. In the corner of the kitchen I spy a perfectly round web with a rather large black spider. I move in fascinated by her movements. While she does her spider chores, I wonder how many husbands she’s eaten, but more importantly I’m drawn not only to the simplicity of her world, but the delicacy of her web. She seems undisturbed by my obsessively close observations, I applaud her ability to ignore the human in the room, I really didn’t have the heart to sweep her away, as Stephen Levine claims that which is impermanent attracts compassion. So I decide to adopt Charlotte and we’ll see if there is a reduction in kitchen flies? #ImpermanenceIsHereToStay

Speaking of annoying insects, as I’m writing this post, a tow truck driver pulls up in front of my house and knocks on the front door. He said he is here to collect my crushed car and will be taking it straight away to a wreaking station? In case you missed it, someone who was multitasking, plowed into my car while I was stopped at a crosswalk a few weeks ago, total Snafu!

This is not good for Cheryl. 

Let me state that a little louder, THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR CHERYL.

I need to empty eight years worth of treasures from under the seats, I need to sit with her and thank her for her service, I need to gently touch all her surfaces, allow each and every fond memories to surface, I need to take out the car seat I have installed for my grandchildren, and the plastic animals they’ve wedged between the seats. I need to play fast car, put my feet up on the dash, and cry for a few hours. 

You can’t just walk up and tow my life away? 

He did, it was a teary goodbye from the kitchen window, I wanted to open some wine but it’s before noon. My name is Cheryl Oreglia and I’m an emotional drinker.

Ellen Goodmans claims, “there’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” I’ll tell you what it does mean, there is a new car in my future, and it comes with a rearview camera, because occasionally I misjudge what’s behind me.

I’m at the stage in life when things are either rusting, rotting, stained, wrinkled, or overgrown. I have senescent issues and the worst place I can be is in my head. Wouldn’t you agree? C. JoyBell C. says, “Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are some things that are never-ending.” Like taxes, traffic, and traditions. Which reminds me, Christmas will be happening in 163 days people, time to update your prime status.

I’ve always said when a door closes, stay the hell inside, don’t go near the windows, they’ll suck you out as if a tornado touched down, and you’ll go flying off to Oz without your red stilettos. As Dorothy claims, “there’s no place like home.” That’s gospel in my book. I think she had what Stephen Batchelor calls an existential readjustment, a seismic shift in the core of oneself, when she finally realized she is no longer Dorothy from Kansas, but a kick ass woman warrior, with a swanky picnic basket, and when things got heated, she did not melt.

Life rushes by at a cruel speed, especially summer, I see my co-worker is posting things on google classroom, prepping for the fall. I’m like honey, I love you, but it’s July, and you’ve making me extremely anxious. You should be sipping margaritas on the back porch, not updating your syllabus, D, let me help you, help me chill.

This morning I had to reclaim my current reality, by turning off the seatbelt sign, and letting my dream of becoming a permanent resident on the Crystal float away. As the sun slowly rises so does my clarity, I struggle to wiggle back into my former self, permanently altered by yesterday, not yet touched by the concomitant obligations of the day.

If five minutes is equal to forty ounces of fine sand passing though an hour glass you can only imagine the weight of every moment happening concurrently around the world. Maybe I need to learn to trust in the provisional aspects of time? 

I’ll close with the brilliant words of the late John O’Donohue, “We rush through our days in such stress and intensity, as if we were here to stay and the serious project of the world depended on us. We worry and grow anxious; we magnify trivia until they become important enough to control our lives. Yet all the time, we have forgotten that we are but temporary sojourners on the surface of a strange planet spinning slowly in the infinite night of the cosmos.” It seems clear to me impermanence is here to stay just like love, wisdom, and vacation photos.

I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, I aim to be clear, comical, and relevant, sometimes I fall short.


  • “Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.” Paulo Coelho
  • “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” Rabindranath Tagore
  • “Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself.” Josh Lanyon
  • #WrinklesRule #AgingGracefully #EverybodyLovesLooney


Leave a Comment

  1. Hello! I enjoyed reading this entry in the Blogosphere, however, I confess I struggled to write a reply. Why might you ask? I felt that your writing was just a little out of character.Initially I was caught off guard by the toilet paper. Everyone knows there is no toilet paper controversy. Assuming we are referring to the same thing, the paper must go over the top outside, unless you get special dispensation by a spiritual/religious leader because of cat ownership. (Have I elevated this to permanence?)And what’s up with the spider? Loyal readers of this blog know Cheryl would never allow a spider to remain in the house (out of concern it would frighten Looney? (Is he ok with this nickname?)) This made me wonder if aliens had abducted you. I had to check to make sure Mac was ok after she spent the weekend with you. But then I reread it and noted the part about how many husbands the spider had eaten, and I was reassured it was you.The paragraph in which you quote: “It's disorienting to forget where you are in life, who's currently part of your narrative, especially when bits and pieces of the storyline have vanished, as if an involuntary detachment to all things nonessential, this to me is how we die, or possibly the toll of one’s death? Maybe we are not meant to fully understand, and life is more of a hands-on experience, our only job is to choose how we will tackle it moment by moment?” gave me an image. Picture life as floating on a raft on a wild river. We don’t know where it is going. People are on the raft with us. The current is rough and choppy. Some people are rowing (the hands -on part), others are unable to row but need help. Every day we wake up a little disoriented, always a little unsure of our purpose. Sometimes we lose an oar, or someone falls off the raft. Sometimes there are new people on the raft. We try to wonder where and why we are on the raft, but we never know.The Muller quote addresses how one would deal with the inevitable loss of a loved one. And of course, your response would be best, but deep inside I am unsure how I would respond, depending on the loss. A sudden unexpected loss, can be devastating to one’s psyche and world view.So then, as I am reading more about the impermanence in your life, I come to the part about being contracted to be with Larry, and how that ends with death. Suddenly this song comes on. great song about getting out of a bad marriage, but I am 1000% sure that is not what you meant.The Ellen Goodman quote has an uplifting quality to it, especially in the sense that when we die, we are moving to the next phase, rather than merely ending the current phase.And I agree that John O Donohue’s quote was brilliant, (especially the part about magnifying trivia, until we allow it to control us) and then you backed it up with a great song. However, the song is what really threw me for a loop. Dust in the Wind is not a Cheryl song. Of this I am certain. Dust in the wind, while beautiful, and totally crushing the theme of impermanence, speaks to the futility and pointlessness of life. Everything one does matters not, for we will all be dead just the same. It is almost Ecclesiastical, without the joy of a day well lived. Total BUZZKILL. Well, once again I got a kick out of your writing. Enjoy your new car, impermanent though it may be.


  2. Hi Mike, you totally busted me, reading through this post again I believe I may have left my normal character behind, and went a little rogue on this one. I blame Crystal Cruises! It's not easy trying to wiggle back into your normal life after such an opulent experience. It was totally disorienting. It made me think of astronauts returning to life on Earth after being confined to a space center for months. Well maybe not quite that dramatic? But close.The toilet paper controversy all started with our cat and for some reason no one could remember which way to install the roll? I spent have my life turning them around, spewing devilish threats to deaf ears, and absolutely no impact on their behavior. I absolutely love the wild river, the raft, and the diverse occupants, falling off, climbing on, lounging or rowing. Perfecto! You could expand that into a guest blog! Let me know. So I've had that Muller quote tucked away in a note book for a while and it just begged to be added to the piece. I adapted it slightly hoping it would apply to more than just death? Not sure that was accomplished but I do agree some losses are so unexpected and devastating it might be impossible to choose anything but a prolonged state of grief. I think Larry is totally fine with his new nickname, he smiles when I yell across the room, Looney I have a powerful thirst, meet me on the patio for a splash of wine? And I meant to explain he is the one stable in my life, I love that man something fierce, and we love our life together. But not to leave you with a total buzz kill but I'm fairly certain marriage is an Earthy contract and heaven is going to be extraordinarily different than we could possibly imagine. Now as for the spider thing. I actually saw her up at the lake where we are sort of inundated by these large hairy creatures. I mixed it into this post because I was sort of captivated by her beautiful web and the delicacy of her home. She spun her way into the post. What can you do?I am a big O'Donohue fan, his writing is so rich, meaningful, and full of practical wisdom. He died young and unexpectedly. What a loss for the world. And then I end with Dust in the Wind, what was I thinking? Your choice is so much better! Keep those comments coming Mike, love hearing your thoughts, and reactions to these mini narratives. xxoo


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